Unexpected Hair Crush: Modern Rockabilly Bangs (and Lily Allen's Elle UK Cover)


It's official: everybody cool is rocking a very modern take on rockabilly bangs, and I want in.

If you're not familiar with rockabilly bangs, sometimes called Bettie Bangs after pin-up queen Bettie Page, they're thick, blunt, and way shorter than you're used to — they're cut to expose the eyebrows and some of the forehead. The bangs are typically left a bit longer in the middle, forming a swooping U-shape, and traditionally accompanied by victory rolls or other pin-up-esque details.

But that was then, this is now, and the rockabilly bang has changed along with the times. Today, after a decades-long obsession with the long, feathery, hippie bangs of Stevie Nicks and Jane Birkin, we're seeing hipstery, modern interpretations of Bettie Page's iconic look on everybody from Lily Allen on her new Elle UK cover to Bustle's very own Maitri Mehta.

What makes these bangs different from the rockabilly fringe of the past? Well, the rounded shape is gone, for the most part. Allen's bangs are longer toward her temples and parted in the middle, which is exactly how Stevie Nicks wore hers — this version is just a lot shorter, less songbird-esque. In other iterations, the modern rockabilly bang is now just a heavy, straight-across fringe, still characterized by its unusually short length, but no longer curled under or rounded in the middle.

Also important: the rest of your hair. If you wish to modernize the rockabilly bang, you must modernize the entire rockabilly look. No victory rolls, no polka dot bikinis, no seductively bending down to pick up an "accidentally" dropped handkerchief. (Okay, that last one's up to you.) Messy hair, à la Allen's Elle UK cover, is an easy way to modernize the look. Red lips and a beauty mark will look adorable, but may transport you straight back to the 1950's. Proceed with caution.

Katy Perry is a good example of a rockabilly bang-wearer who's managed to keep her bangs fresh and current. Below, she's toned down the pin-up makeup; in 2008, she paired choppy, just-above-the-brows bangs with a straight black bob.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Ready to take the plunge? The world of pin-up devotees is full of useful guides to cutting your own rockabilly bangs; here's a helpful but creepy one featuring a wig on a mannequin head. And if you're afraid of accidentally time-traveling back to the heyday of misogynist ads, just remember to skip the red lipstick and opt for mauve, and forgo the hot rollers in favorite of texturizing spray and dry shampoo. May the Page be with you.

Image: Elle